Things to Avoid in Laos

Women don't touch the monks

Taboo is something should be considered and noticed when travelling. In each country, taboos are diverse and reflect their culture, religion and belief. Especially in Asian country, its culture is not as open as Western style. Here is the list of things to avoid in Laos, which might help you to prevent awkward situation caused by misunderstood in culture.

1. Kiss and hug for greeting
This action is normal in Western country but is considered as impolite and insulting. When greeting, use the “NOP” tradition. First, put your hand in praying gesture but don’t put it over the top. And then say “Sabai Dee” and smile. That is the most proper way for saying hello and showing your friendliness.

Laotian people say “Sabaidee” and bow with clasped hands in front of chest
Laotian people say “Sabaidee” and bow with clasped hands in front of chest

2. Touch children’s head, man’s head, and the elder.
If you do so, it can be considered as impolite and graceless. According to Buddhism’s ideology, all the best of a person is concentrated on the top of their head. Touching other head is an aggressive action showing that you want to fight.

3. Show disrespect to Buddhism monks
In a country of Buddhism as Laos, monk is the most admirable person. Don’t be impolite with the monks or you will be in trouble.

You should impolite with the monks
You should polite with the monks

4. Flirting with woman
Buddhism also praise the importance of morality, therefore, woman is protected. Don’t be impolite or insult woman, you will know the consequences!

5. Wear short, tank top, miniskirt when visiting temple, pagoda or ritual ceremony
Laos is a Buddhism country and everyone shows their respect for temple and pagoda. Dressing inappropriate is unacceptable. Instead, you should wear long pants, long sleeves T-Shirt to cover chest and shoulder.

You should wear long clothes when visiting temples
You should wear long clothes when visiting temples

6. Have hair-cut or shaving in the evening or Wednesday, washing hair in Thursday
It is extremely difficult for you to find a hairdresser open on Wednesday and Thursday in Laos since it is a taboo for locals.

7. Taking photo without permission
Taking photo seems to be a normal action when travelling, but when there is sign of no camera, you should follow otherwise; you will erase your photo or be invited to police station.

Don't take photo without permission
Don’t take photo without permission

8. Wear shoes when entering local’s house
There is no doubt about tradition. Please take off your shoes in order to show respect to the owner of the house.

9. Sleep toward the door in local house
If you get a chance to do a home stay in Laos’ local house, there is a traditional taboo when sleeping. They avoid sleeping toward the door and consider it will bring bad luck and disease to the house.

When planning a Laos tour, there are a few things to avoid to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. It is advisable to avoid disrespectful behavior towards the local culture and customs, such as inappropriate clothing or behavior at religious sites. By staying respectful, mindful of hygiene, and adhering to the law, travelers can fully embrace the beauty and charm of Laos during their tour.